‘Better Call Saul’s’ Brilliant, Emotional Finale Is ‘Breaking Bad’ in Reverse: TV Review

Spoiler alert: This review contains spoilers for the series finale of “Saul Gone”, “Better Call Saul”.

It turns out that once upon a time there was a man and in the future Jimmy McGill will put his own self-interest first.

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Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman breaks good, to borrow a phrase, in a grand and grand finale to one of TV’s most consistently strong dramas of the last decade. After finally being caught, Saul worked out a plea deal in which he would be in and out of prison for seven years on a back-and-forth-but-who-count basis. But then he notices and takes the opportunity to clear his ex-wife Kim Wexler’s (Rhea Seehorn) name and reclaim his real name, which he used before “Saul,” for full-time chicanery himself. had committed Jimmy will almost certainly spend the rest of his life behind bars, in the knowledge that he was put there in a moment of grace.

The end of this spinoff of “Breaking Bad” marks the likely end of this creative universe, nearly fourteen years after the mothership debuted on AMC. And the ending of “Saul” fits the puzzle of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould with a slight, interesting tension. The vision of “Breaking Bad” was very dark. That show’s conclusion, with deranged criminal Walter White getting everything he wanted before dying, calm in the knowledge that he was perfect, gave fans perhaps too much of what they wanted. Now, that show’s spinoff denies us the sheer joy of seeing Saul pull off one last big score, forcing us to reckon with the more complex satisfaction of suffering for doing the right thing.

This finale felt premeditated, given the way it drew up Saul’s moral crisis – with the chaos of various supporting characters involved in the drug trade now just a list of crimes for which Saul must answer. – The score has probably never been stronger than in a courtroom scene until the deployment of key supporting characters to make it up, Odenkirk seems completely certain in his decision to use his lawyering skills on behalf of someone else. is and yet quietly happy that the scheme is working.

Seehorn’s performance as Kim remains radiant, as she pretends to be her ex-husband’s lawyer to share one last cigarette in prison with a wistful reminder of all the suffering they shared in happier times. While I have, at times, found the direct references to “Breaking Bad” on “Better Call Saul” to be somewhat clumsy, this episode’s flashback cameo of Bryan Cranston as Walter has earned its place. “So you were always like this,” Kingpin tells his lawyer, as the pair discuss an early slip-and-fall scam pulled by Saul. Walter was forced into a life of crime, or so he tells himself; Saul was born for this.

Their discussion takes place in the context of Saul’s extraordinary philosopher; He wonders if Walter has any regrets. (If I have one note about this scene, it’s that Cranston makes too much of the meal after refusing to understand Walter’s question; I’m used to Odenkirk’s lead performance and the low jagged rhythms of “Better Call Saul.” Done. “Usually.) Later, Michael McKean returns for another flashback scene, playing Chuck, the man Jimmy betrayed. McKean and Odenkirk’s scene is sweet and sad for what follows. is; it is filled with a promise that Jimmy will take care of his brother, which we know he does not keep. Jimmy notices that Chuck is reading the novel “The Time Machine”.

This ending acts like a time machine, not just because it’s dropped during moments of Jimmy’s life. Almost nine years ago, after a flurry of expectations, “Breaking Bad” ended spectacularly unfulfilled. Its smoothness made the episode a tightly constructed narrative machine, but the easy resolution lacked grit and texture. It is perhaps not surprising that series creator Vince Gilligan has repeatedly attempted to flesh out the story more. He’s done so with the feature-length film “El Camino,” which follows Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) after the events of “Breaking Bad,” and now with Saul’s Story, which reunites him and Peter Gould (who wrote and directed) episode) A Second Chance in a series finale.

“Saul”, for this viewer, was an achievement that might never have been made without its predecessor series and its improvisations. Its treatment of “Slippin’ Jimmy” veered away from the Grace hit notes of pain that the more operatic “Breaking Bad” didn’t quite achieve. (And, not for nothing, but this show had a better sense of humor.) With the brutal separation of Jimmy and Kim — once separated by a prison wall, united against the world — the ending is a Confirms this feeling once and for all, and the knowledge that escaped their mutual attraction to the thrill of wrongdoing, but no one can – nothing from “Breaking Bad” can match it. It may not register, however, that it spoke in the eyes rather than the screams. The last thing we see of Jimmy is what Kim sees of him, a man who seems like a ghost to her even if he isn’t such a definite part of her past. The camera tracks his gaze as the prison wall blocks his view, and he is gone.

All in all, “Saul” will be remembered as an achievement of an era of television that seemed long before the show itself was over: It had the willingness to dig around the edges of its story and the faith in its audience. C that recalls, say, “The Americans,” something that is rarely in evidence in today’s new series. (In particular, it ties in with AMC’s era as an emerging driving force in adult drama, an era that, pending a Sally Draper prequel series at some future date, seems to have wound down.) The show’s willingness, especially in its penultimate episodes, to alternate key and poignant moments with the quotidian order of the characters’ normal existence — a conversation with a bartender, a day at the office — that seemed to go on a little too long was a wonderful one. There was an option. It had real-life texture, which is probably not what one would expect to find from a show about a corrupt lawyer involved in cartel wars.

And yet that is what made it work until its last moments. The show’s penchant for repetition and Saul starting the story of his falling for a second time in front of a judge last episode, so that he can change the story enough to let Kim off the hook, is played out at length. It’s a tease that gives away everything else once the audience realizes what’s going on. And it’s the last act, unlike what we saw on “Breaking Bad,” a six-season long confidence game: Walter White’s transformation into Scarface, watching the endless capering of a man who’s thrilled to see him. Millie who literally couldn’t. Help yourself from the wrongdoer, who needed to bear the loss while trying hard to remain anonymous. And at the last moment, we see what he is hiding: a human heart.

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